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Toddler’s tragic plight has family at wit’s end



Date Published: 24-Jun-2010

By Denise McNamara

Galway City Council is wasting millions of euro in taxpayer’s money by not providing a suitable home for the family of a severely disabled toddler so that they can care for her at home instead of keeping her in hospital unnecessarily.

That’s the claim of parents, Patrick Flaherty (29) and Samantha Harte (26), who are living in a local authority house in Ballybane with their seven-year-old son Patrick. Their daughter Chloe has been kept in at University Hospital Galway (UHG) for the past 11 months but spending the day at home.

Her father says they tried caring for her at home overnight but their two-storey semi detached house is totally unsuitable to caring for a child confined to a wheelchair and who must stay for long periods on a special mattress.

The least little noise wakes her up. They nearly lost her after it took an ambulance 35 minutes to reach them following one of her seizures. She is also in danger of chest infections because of the draught from the chimney in the sitting room where she must sleep with one of her parents by her special cot on a mattress on the floor.

Chloe, now 2, was born with craniosynostosis, which caused her brain to fuse with her skull. This requires an operation to ensure brain damage does not occur. Patrick says they spent months fighting with medics in Dublin to have the operation, which was delayed until she was 18 months because of cutbacks.

Tragically the procedure left Chloe – who until that point had met every developmental milestone for a child of her age – permanently brain damaged and blind. She can only move her arms and legs and is unable to support her head. She now requires round-the-clock care and is being cared for at UHG at a cost of €1,000 a day.

Her consultant at UHG Kevin Dunne wrote a letter to the council in support of their housing application comparing her stay in the hospital as being akin to a prison cell.

The family has now identified a suitable bungalow in a quiet part of Knocknacarra that is on the market for €310,000. It is near the hospital and the Burren View Child Development Centre in Knocknacarra run by the Brothers of Charity, where they have secured a place for Chloe next September. They have also transferred their son to Boleybeg school to be nearer the hospital.

They have pleaded with Galway City Council to purchase the house so they can bring their daughter home permanently. But all the correspondence from the housing department indicates the earliest they will be able to move to a suitable house is three years time due to a lack of money. 

 A spokesman for the council said they would not comment on an individual housing case.

Chloe’s dad said: “No one is taking into account that my daughter is being kept in hospital for the past 11 months unnecessarily – that’s costing the taxpayer €1,000 a day, over another three years that’s €1.5m. Yet, here you have two able-bodied parents fighting to bring her out of hospital and care for her if we had the right accommodation.”

“She’s going to spend the rest of her life going into hospital daily or weekly. The closer we are to hospital the more chance we have of keeping our daughter as long as we can. It makes sense for everyone concerned.”

Patrick was forced to give up his job as a carpenter to care for his daughter. He plans to continue his fight to ensure the best possible care for Chloe.

For more on this story, see the Galway City Tribune

Galway in Days Gone By

The way we were – Protecting archives of our past



A photo of Galway city centre from the county council's archives

People’s living conditions less than 100 years ago were frightening. We have come a long way. We talk about water charges today, but back then the local District Councils were erecting pumps for local communities and the lovely town of Mountbellew, according to Council minutes, had open sewers,” says Galway County Council archivist Patria McWalter.

Patria believes we “need to take pride in our history, and we should take the same pride in our historical records as we do in our built heritage”. When you see the wealth of material in her care, this belief makes sense.

She is in charge of caring for the rich collection of administrative records owned by Galway County Council and says “these records are as much part of our history as the Rock of Cashel is. They document our lives and our ancestors’ lives. And nobody can plan for the future unless you learn from the past, what worked and what didn’t”.

Archivists and librarians are often unfairly regarded as being dry, academic types, but that’s certainly not true of Patria. Her enthusiasm is infectious as she turns the pages of several minute books from Galway’s Rural District Councils, all of them at least 100 years old.

Part of her role involved cataloguing all the records of the Councils – Ballinasloe, Clifden, Galway, Gort, Loughrea, Mountbellew, Portumna and Tuam. These records mostly consisted of minutes of various meetings.

When she was cataloguing them she realised their worth to local historians and researchers, so she decided to compile a guide to their content. The result is For the Record: The Archives of Galway’s Rural District Councils, which will be a valuable asset to anybody with an interest in history.

Many representatives on these Councils were local personalities and several were arrested during the political upheaval of the era, she explains.

And, ushering in a new era in history, women were allowed to sit on these Rural District Councils – at the time they were not allowed to sit on County Councils.

All of this information is included in Patria’s introductory essay to the attractively produced A4 size guide, which gives a glimpse into how these Rural Councils operated and the way political thinking changed in Ireland during a short 26-year period. In the early 1900s, these Councils supported Home Rule, but by 1920, they were calling for full independence and refusing to recognise the British administration.

“I love the tone,” says Patria of the minutes from meetings. “The language was very emotive.”

That was certainly true of the Gort Rural District Council. At a meeting in 1907, following riots in Dublin at the premiere of JM Synge’s play, The Playboy of the Western World the councillors’ response was vehement. They recorded their decision to “protest most emphatically against the libellous comedy, The Playboy of the Western World, that was belched forth during the past week in the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, under the fostering care of Lady Gregory and Mr Yeats. We congratulate the good people of Dublin in howling down the gross buffoonery and immoral suggestions that are scattered throughout this scandalous performance.


For more from the archives see this week’s Tribunes here

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Archive News

City boys struggle in schools soccer final



Date Published: 24-Jan-2013

Coláiste na Coiribe 1

Our Lady’s Belmullet 3

Keith Kelly  in Castlebar

COLÁISTE Coláiste na Coiribe suffered Connacht final heartbreak for the third time in five years yesterday (Thursday) when they went down to the undisputed kingpins of Connacht B schools soccer, Our Lady’s Secondary of Belmullet, in the provincial final in Castlebar.

The game was moved from the GMIT campus in the town to the synthetic pitch of Castlebar Celtic due to a frozen pitch, and in truth the city side struggled to warm to the task against the reigning champions, who adapted far better to the artificial surface.

The Galway outfit did have the brighter start, pinning their opponents back on what was a very narrow pitch – there was just three yards between the sideline and the edge of the 18-yard box – but once Belmullet got their passing game going, they took the game by the scruff of the neck and never looked like relinquishing that grip,

They had just one goal to show at half-time for their dominance, but two goals in the space of three minutes early in the second half all but wrapped up the title, and while Coláiste na Coiribe worked hard to get back into the game – and pulled a goal back through Cathal O’Regan – they came up short against a well-drilled Mayo side.

Daithí Ó Máille caused the Belmullet defence plenty of problems down the right, and he came close to opening the scoring in the third minute when played in by Eric Ó Gionnain, but his first touch took him wide and the narrow angle proved his undoing.

Ó Gionnain then forced Belmullet ’keeper Jack Deane into a mistake when there looked to be little danger, but the ’keeper managed to scramble the ball out for a corner. Coláiste na Coiribe were unable to build on that impressive start, however, and Belmullet soon took control of what was at times an end-to-end game.

Daniel Lenihan and Caolann Malone had a busy day keeping the livewire Justin Healy under wraps, but the striker broke free in the 16th minute to test Ruairi Dempsey in the Coláiste na Coiribe goal, a test the ’keeper passed comfortably.

Dempsey then brilliantly denied the Mayo side the opener two minutes later when a corner from the left found Peter Caffrey unmarked, but his shot from six yards was brilliantly beaten away by Dempsey, and the Belmullet captain’s follow-up effort hit the post and went wide.

Kyle O’Reilly sent a shot wide from inside the box in the 24th minute, and Healy and Tommy Conroy linked up three minutes later down the right, but Conroy’s teasing ball across the face of goal eluded the inrushing attackers.

The Mayo side finally got the breakthrough on the half-hour mark when Eoin O’Donoghue got a head on Gary Boylan’s free-kick to direct the ball into the path of Conroy, and he fired home from inside the six yard box from what looked like an offside position.

It was no more than Belmullet deserved considering their dominance, and they as good as wrapped up the final early in the second half when scoring twice in three minutes. The impressive Boylan got both, the first a drive from just inside the box that gave Dempsey no chance in the 51st minute after Belmullet broke from a Coláiste na Coiribe corner; the second in the 54th minute when the midfielder pounced on a loose ball to drill home a shot from 20 yards out.

For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.

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Archive News

Charity shops still delivering the goods in tough times



Date Published: 31-Jan-2013

Government funding for Galway Airport could be in doubt as a result of the Budget.

The Department of Transport has confirmed that funding announced last year for regional airports is under review.

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